Nease’s Insights - Week 10 - Pass Me The Envelope Please…

Michael Nease brings you his insights each week for the world of Fantasy Football. Follow him on Twitter @mikeinsights

Nine weeks into the season all 32 teams have played at least eight games. Now is a good time to sit back, pause for a moment and see where we are in this season fantasy wise. It is time to see who the best players have been and maybe reminisce about some preseason studs that have failed to live up to their pedigree, because of either injury or just plain lack of performance.

Oftentimes our fantasy football analysis is subjective and we factor in injuries to players or teammates. This time though we are looking at pure results, with no consideration at all to sad stories and excuses. When it comes to winning or losing, we need to only consider what a player has actually done, period! Perception is often at variance with reality as we will see as we read on.

This week we talk about the top fantasy scorers for the first half of the season. Let’s break out the Top 3 at each position and show their average points per game, experience levels and also their ADP rankings at the onset of the season.

Rank

Pos

Player

NFL Team

FPPG

Exp

ADP

1

QB

Russell Wilson

Sea

27

6

50

2

QB

Carson Wentz

Phi

25

2

114

3

QB

Dak Prescott

Dal

24

2

78


Looking for Rodgers, Brady and Brees? Maybe Ryan or Winston? ADP wise they were all Top 10 QBs going into Week 1. Yet here after Week 9 Rodgers is out, probably for the year and Brady is the only one in this elite group to be a Top 10 scorer. The rest are performing at varying lower levels than fantasy owners anticipated.

Wilson is surprising, but not that unbelievable of a frontrunner. However Wentz has progressed from a modest rookie season to be an overwhelming success this year. Prescott has continued to expand on a great start to his career in his 2016 rookie season.

Remember, there is an ongoing changing of the guard in fantasy football. It was not too long ago that QBs like Dan Marino, John Elway and Joe Montana received fantasy accolades. And of course let us not forget Peyton Manning too quickly.

Of course sitting on the top of the heap is tenuous at best. Just ask Deshaun Watson who would have been #1 if not for his tragic knee injury. With another eight weeks left in the season we could easily see some significant shifts in the scoring rankings. Some players will be hot, while others are not. And of course there is that word we all hate to hear—injury!

Rank

Pos

Player

NFL Team

FPPG

Exp

ADP

1

RB

Todd Gurley

LAR

24

3

17

2

RB

Leonard Fournette

Jac

22

R

22

3

RB

Ezekiel Elliot

Dal

22

2

10


What? Kareem Hunt is not on top? No he has been slumping and is the #5 scorer now and is fading as he heads into the Chief’s bye week. His start was phenomenal and as long as he stays healthy he will remain a very good RB selection.

After a solid rookie year followed by a horrendous second season, Todd Gurley has developed into all you could ask for in a fantasy RB. Is it a coincidence that young QB Jared Goff has grown from being called the worst starting QB in the league just months ago to heading the Rams to a 51 point game in Week 9? It shows that a change in coaching with a big upgrade in offensive strategy can turn a team from a big loser to a winner. It sure doesn’t hurt that the Rams offensive renaissance has been met with a similar growth spurt on the defensive side of the ball.

Out of this group, Gurley looks like he can maintain a good pace. Fournette is sputtering a bit with an injury and he was suspended in Week 9 for behavioral issues. And of course Zeke is on the verge of being suspended, unless he isn’t.

Actually the biggest surprise in this injury filled season is that out of the Top 10 ADP choices at this critical position, only the #1 RB, David Johnson is out with an injury. Unfortunately three of the 10 ADP picks, Jay Ajayi, DeMarco Murray and Devonta Freeman are having subpar seasons.  

Rank

Pos

Player

NFL Team

FPPG

Exp

ADP

1

WR

DeAndre Hopkins

Hou

21

5

25

2

WR

Antonio Brown

Pit

20

8

2

3

WR

Will Fuller

Hou

18

2

203


We obviously have two of these three WRs who greatly exceeded expectations because of the unexpected emergence of QB Deshaun Watson. With Tom Savage at the helm, both Hopkins and Fuller will likely plummet in the scoring rankings.

Antonio Brown is, as always, right where you would expect him. In my opinion, he is the absolute most consistent WR in the NFL.  A few years ago, when the Steelers chose Brown over Mike Wallace, it had to be one of the most astute front office decisions of the last decade. The Cleveland Browns probably would have let both get away…

Looking back at the WR ADP rankings from draft time, eight of the Top 10 are not a Top 10 scorer at this time. Odell Beckham of course is injured. A.J. Green is #9 in scoring. Brown, Beckham and Julio Jones were the consensus Top 3 WRs, according to the composite wisdom of those drafting this year. Jones is #16 and Beckham is out, so only Brown is still around.

For those keeping score at home, that means that top ADP players, Aaron Rodgers, David Johnson and Odell Beckham are fantasy busts this season due to injuries. This is another fact supporting my contention that ADP is not all that valid of draft tool simply because it does not insure any valid guarantee of success.

This game has a huge luck factor that nobody really want to acknowledge. Experts strut around following the wisdom of the herd and when that fails, they cover their tracks with rambling excuses of injuries (which we know happens a lot) and otherwise rationalizing away a bad decision in the first place.   

Rank

Pos

Player

NFL Team

FPPG

Exp

ADP

1

TE

Zach Ertz

Phi

16

5

71

2

TE

Rob Gronkowski

NE

16

8

18

3

TE

Travis Kelce

KC

16

5

29


On the surface, with Gronk (#1), Kelce (#2) and Ertz (#9) all being in the Top 10 in the ADP rankings, the TE position looks like scoring is playing out pretty much as expected. Surprisingly, the only other ADP Top 10 TE is Seattle’s Jimmy Graham. Many have a perception that Graham is having a lackluster season, but the truth is that he not only is the #8 scorer at 11 FPPG, bur other than Zach Ertz, he is the only TE to score in double digits in every game he has played since Week 3 

Greg Olsen and Tyler Ertz are gone with injuries. The TE position also has players hindered by injuries that are playing at less than 100% and others that have been just plain disappointing..

Rank

Pos

Player

NFL Team

FPPG

Exp

ADP

1

PK

Greg Zeurlein

LAR

15

6

883

2

PK

Harrison Butker

KC

15

R

350

3

PK

Jake Elliott

Phi

12

R

436


Ah, I bet you are looking for Tucker, Gostkowski and Bryant here. They all had ADP rankings showing they were being drafted in the first 12 rounds of drafts on the average. Right now they are ranked #17, #9 and #14, respectively. That makes Gostkowski the only one of the three being worthy of filling a lineup slot right now.

The common success factor behind Zeurlein, Butker and Elliott is that they kick for winning, high scoring teams. ADP wise, Zeurlein was totally buried at the bottom of the list, below anybody else drafted as a PK. As for Butker and Elliott, they were just two obscure rookies at best at draft time and are only scoring like they are now because of injuries to established kickers in Kansas City and Philadelphia. Tell me, would you be better off with either a QB, RB or WR now, or Blair Tucker in say the 11th round?

The obvious answer is to do what many suggest, take your kicker in the last couple of rounds.

Rank

Pos

Player

NFL Team

FPPG

Exp

ADP

1

DST

Jacksonville Jaguars

N/A

16

N/A

183

2

DST

Baltimore Ravens'

N/A

13

N/A

171

3

DST

LA Rams

N/A

13

N/A

188


These teams were the 14th, 12th and 15th ranked according to this year’s ADP numbers. It’s funny how we worship those rankings at draft time. When we look back and compare actual performance levels to those that were expected, we see that ADP should actually mean Amazingly Dumb Predictor. We always here that the definition of stupidity is…

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